CHARLESTON — At a time when many businesses are struggling, Limited Video Lottery at bars and clubs around West Virginia continues to set monthly revenue records, Lottery Director John Myers told the state Lottery Commission on Wednesday.
In the five months since Gov. Jim Justice ordered a 10 1/2-week shutdown of the machines from mid-March to the end of May, Limited Video Lottery revenue has set monthly records, Myers said, including the record high gross-revenue month, along with the second-, fifth-, ninth- and 11th-highest months.
Afterward, Myers said he believes the revenue records stem from a combination of pent-up demand, lack of other entertainment options and a sense of security in going to neighborhood bars and clubs as opposed to larger venues.
“I think maybe they feel more comfortable going to a place with only five or six people in it,” he said. Under state law, each Limited Video Lottery location may have a maximum of seven machines.
Myers said he also believes safety measures required for LVL venues, including either having plexiglass barriers between machines or spacing machines at least 6 feet apart, provide a comfort level.
“I think there’s that little bit of comfort going in a place where they can see they’re separated by physical barriers,” he said. “They don’t necessarily feel comfortable going someplace with larger crowds.”
There are 7,486 Limited Video Lottery machines in operation in 1,220 bars, clubs and fraternal organizations statewide.
For October, Limited Video Lottery had monthly gross revenue of $37.3 million, good for the ninth-highest all-time revenue month.
That follows the all-time record month of June, the first full month after the shutdown, when LVL took in $40.88 million, and July, the second-highest month, at $39.82 million.
LVL revenue dipped slightly in August, to $38.22 million, the fifth-highest month, and in September, to $36.82 million, the 11th-highest month.
October’s LVL revenue was up about $4 million from October 2019.
That helped the Lottery’s overall gross revenue for the month top out at $94 million, up about $2.3 million from October 2019, even as casino revenue continues to lag during the pandemic.
Racetrack video lottery grossed $35.7 million, down $1.8 million from October 2019, as none of the state’s four racetrack casinos have returned to 24-hour operations.
While the racetrack casinos continue to struggle during the pandemic, the casino at The Greenbrier resort has seen an upturn, with video slots up 8% and table games revenue up 32% for the budget year to date, according to Lottery figures.
Budget year to date, LVL gross revenue of $152.16 million is up 16%, or $21 million, from the same point in 2019. The budget year began July 1.
Limited Video Lottery launched late in 2001 as part of legislation that outlawed the so-called “gray” video poker machines that were commonplace in bars and clubs at the time.